Northwestern State finished day one of the Southland Conference Indoor Championships with four podium finishes and qualifying 11 runners for Monday’s finals.
The Lady Demons had a banner day with a gold in the long jump, silver in the pole vault and bronze in the weight throw. They also send 11 runners into the finals across four events with three runners each in both the 60 and 200-meter distances.
The women are in second in the team standings after six events with 25 total points
The NSU men qualified three runners for the finals in the 60 meters and got a top-podium finish in the long jump. The Demons sit tied for seventh with New Orleans after six events with 17 points.
It was a year in the making for senior jumper Jasmyn Steels who checked conference champion off her list of already impressive accomplishments.
After being bested in the event a year ago, Steels left no doubt this time soaring to a 20-5.75 mark. She was the only competitor to clear 20 feet on the day and won the title by nearly two full feet.
“So happy for Jasmyn to get that conference championship I know she deserves,” head coach Mike Heimerman said. “She was a national champion and not a conference champion until today. She did a great job today and ended up being able to pass on her last three attempts to save her legs for tomorrow.”
It was a similar scenario on the men’s side as Markeit Steverson set the standard early in the competition.
The junior landed at 23-11.0 on his first jump of the day. His mark stood the rest of the competition and ultimately edged Sam Houston’s Zachary Johnston by a quarter inch for the SLC championship.
Quindarrious Thompson picked up four points for the NSU men in the even as well, taking fifth overall with his jump of 23-4.75, a new career best by almost a foot.
In the first event of the day AnnMarie Broussard took home her second conference medal in the pole vault in as many years. The sophomore hopped up the podium to second overall with vault of 13-2.25. She was one of two competitors to clear 13 feet on the day.
Kristin McDuffie joined the podium in the weight throw by smashing her previous career best in the event. The senior launched a 56-6.75 throw, setting her new mark by nearly three feet. Her bronze finish earned six points for the Lady Demons.
“Kristin really gave us a huge shot in the arm,” Heimerman said. “Her getting third, which came in right around the same time AnnMarie finished her jumps was a big momentum push for us as a whole early in the day.”
On the track the Lady Demons continued to put up blazing times with eight qualifications and multiple career bests falling on the fast track.
“It was just a phenomenal day for us on the track,” Heimerman said. “Coach Pennington had them ready to go and they all executed everything exactly how we wanted and you can’t ask for much more than that. Just a very impressive day for us and sets us up well for tomorrow.”
Freshman Lynelle Washington turned more heads with her speed in the 60, running the fastest time of the season at 7.44, easily qualifying for the event finals.
Natashia “Speedy” Jackson lived up to her name in a massive way. She qualifyed for three event finals and broke the SLC championship meet record with a time of 53.69 in the 400. She also qualified in the 60 (7.45), second to Washington, and the 200 (23.91) with the first or second best times in each of those events.
“I don’t know what else you can say about Speedy,” Heimerman said. “She made the finals in three events today and realistically is the favorite in each of those events. She is just an impressive young lady.”
NSU qualified more sprinters for the finals that any other school with three each in the men’s and women’s 60 and the women’s 200, leaving the door open for NSU sweeps in the three events.
“The goal would definitely be a sweep,” Heimerman said. “We’re certainly going to try and do our best. Just going to ask them to go out and give everything they have and I know they will.
“Our conference has gotten so much better and the times everybody is putting up is a reflection of that. They’re about as good as anybody in the country. It’s not going to be easy, but our sprinters really stepped up today and put us in great position for tomorrow.”
Janiel Moore earned a qualifying spot in the 60-meter hurdles with Kie’Ave Harry (6.80), Javin Arrington (6.88) and Brandon Letts (6.85) each getting spots in the men’s 60-meter final.
Day two of competition begins at 10 a.m. with the women’s shot put and triple jump. Running events start at 11 a.m. with the women’s 60-meter hurdle finals.
“We’re primed for a lot of points tomorrow,” Heimerman said. “After the momentum we got today and the field events tomorrow that we feel really good about it could be a really good day for us.”
Live video of the final day of competition is available on the Southland Digital Network. Visit www.southland.org/liveto watch or follow the links for live results throughout the day.